Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas just got better...

Here are the two reasons why Trader Joe's makes Christmas time even better then it is...

Candy Cane Joe-Joe's
Oreo s with crushed candy canes in the creme. Amazing. 

Peppermint Pretzel Thins
Pretzel slims with a creamy coating and peppermint sprinkles over the top

Monday, December 12, 2011


In the beginning there was wine
The birth of Atlantic Lakes Winery
by Jeff Sutton

About five years ago;  myself, my wife, and my father-in-law began discussing making our own wine. My father-in-law had made wine in the past and talked about how fun and rewarding it was to be drinking your own wine made from scratch. The discussion would come up from time to time over the five years. My wife and I had moved to San Diego and always said that when we moved back to NJ we would make it happen. We moved back 'home' in August of 2009 and were determined to make the dream come true. After about another year of discussing it we finally decided to make it happen. We asked my parents to join in with us and my in-laws. My family is from Atlantic Highlands and my wife's is from Budd Lake, thus creating The Atlantic Lakes Winery.

The Grapes

The grapes were California grown and purchased from Corrados Wine Market in Clifton, NJ. We decided to make the following varietals:
  • Carnelian
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet/Merlot Blend
  • Sangiovese
  • Petite Syrah
"If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!"- Miles Raymond
Jaci, Lin, Bob, Jeff

Jaci, Rick, Deb, Jeff


We used an antique crank crusher to crush the grapes. The crusher was purchased from a garage sale 10+ years ago and it is an oldie. We wanted to do the old fashioned grape stomp with our feet, BUT I am a germ-a-phobe so that wasnt going to happen.


...After crushing, we put them in 5 gallon Rubbermaid tubs for two weeks of fermentation. As the grapes ferment the skins rise to the top. The top layer of skins is called the “cap.” On a daily basis we had to “punch” the cap which meant pushing the skins back down into the juices. After this stopped occurring, we were ready to press the grapes!...


Again, my father-in-law had a press from when he had done wine making in the past. We scooped the grapes from the tubs into the press then cranked it down. The juice was flowing. We transferred the juice into 5 gallon glass carboys. 

Bob scooping into the press
The Juice
Jaci, Lin, Bob filtering into carboys

Carboys full of wine

...The wine sat in these glass carboys for over a year. Throughout the year we had to rack to get the sediment out and also did splash racking to rid the wine of a sulfur smell...

Splash Racking

Stirring with a copper pole

Stirring with the copper pole was recommend to get the sulfur smell out of the wine. It worked!


After a full year of staring at this wine in the carboys it was finally time to bottle. We purchased new bottles, a corker, and a few other necessities for the bottling process at Corrados again. This process was the quickest and one of the most rewarding. To see the wine go from grapes to an actual bottle is fascinating. To be part of the process was awesome. 


Overhead bottling

Jaci Bottling

Bob Corking
The wine- (pre label)

The Label

Finished Product
Five years after the initial discussion of wine making occurred we have the first vintage of Atlantic Lakes Winery. As my father-in-law said, it is very rewarding to drink wine that you made from scratch. 

"Wine is a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, and then it begins its steady, inevitable decline."  - Maya

The Vinters: Jaci, Jeff, Bob, Lin, Deb, Rick

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Shaving

This post is not food related, but im very proud of my pumpkin so I wanted to share...

Every year I get very excited to carve pumpkins and every year I end up disappointing myself. The ideas I think of are incredible, but I never follow through. I always end up printing a pre-made carving out and just stenciling it on to the pumpkin. This year was different! This year I decided to follow through with my crazy idea and attempt something I never had done before. It was going to be my first attempt at the shaving method.

I had done some research on the shaving method and everywhere I read said to use wood carving tools. Well I dont own those and I was not about to go by them. I dug through my tool box and decided to use a flat head screw driver, a paint can opener, and a chisel. Turns out these tools worked pretty efficiently. I was very impressed with the outcome of my pumpkin and next years will be even better.

This years pumpkin carving was inspired by my favorite football team, Chelsea FC. The image is Stamford The Lion, the mascot for Chelsea. I free hand drew the image on then shaved away the outter layer of the circle. It took about 2 hours from start to finish. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fish Tacos - Rubios style


  • Cod fillets -cut into 4-5 inch pieces
  • 1 package of corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying. Amount will vary depending on your fryer.
  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup beer. I recommend dark beer such as Guinness
  • Garlic powder to taste. Start with less and add as you like.
  • Black Pepper to taste. Start with less and add as you like.
  • 1 Cup of Rubio’s™ White Sauce
  • 3 Cups of finely shredded cabbage
  • 3 medium tomatoes diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 2 Limes cut into wedges


  1. Combine the flour with the garlic powder and black pepper. Mix this with the beer and let it sit for a while. It’s best to let it sit at least an hour.
  2. Wash the fish in water with a bit of salt or some lime juice then dry it completely.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil to 375 degrees. You can check the oil temperature by dropping a 1″ cube of bread and watching for it to float. If it takes a while to float it’s not hot enough. Don’t overheat the oil or your batter will burn and the fish won’t cook.
  4. Vigorously whisk the batter before dipping the fish. This will help make the batter lighter and crispier.
  5. Dip the fish into the batter and immediately into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, turning as necessary.
  6. While your frying the fish, begin warming your tortillas.
  7. Make up the “Pico de Gallo” in a separate bowl. Combine the tomato, onion and cilantro. Set this aside in the refrigerator.


  1. Place a warm tortilla on your plate.
  2. Place a piece of the fish on the center of the tortilla.
  3. Spoon a small amount of the white sauce over the fish. Be liberal with it, but you don’t want it to drip out while you’re eating.
  4. Spoon some of the “pico de gallo” over the fish.
  5. Put a small handful of the cabbage on top
  6. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the top

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The absolute best burger ever! Hands down THE BEST BURGER ever.

The burger: Beef burger nestled between sesame bun toasted with butter and garlic, covered with American cheese, topped with Guacamole and chipotle mayo. WOW Delicious.

1/4 pound Ground Beef
Chipotle Mayo (recipe below)
Guacamole (recipe below)
American cheese (Land o Lakes if you can)

Shape burger with hands. Be careful not to over handle the meat. Lightly form it. Using your thumb make an impression in the middle on top. This is important to hold in the juices. Generously season the burger with Salt and Pepper. Grill it up! Do not push down on the burger while cooking. I know noises are great, but it will drain the juice. Melt the cheese on top.
Meanwhile - butter the roll and sprinkle garlic powder on it. Grill it face down till crispy.
Spread chipotle mayo on bottom of bun, place burger on top, place guacamole on top of burger. ENJOY!!! It is so juicy and amazing. Seriously the best ever.


3 ripe avocados
1 garlic clove
1 tomato (guts squeezed out)
1/2 cup white onion
1 Lime juiced
Salt and Pepper

Combine all the ingredients and let sit in fridge for 30 minutes.

Chipotle Mayo - The new #1 condiment?

See you later ketchup!

I absolutely LOVE chipotle mayo and I am beginning to think it may be the new #1 condiment. It goes great on everything from burgers to fries, to pasta, to ham and cheese sandwiches, to meatloaf, to egg and cheese sandwiches. It is clearly the ultimate condiment.

Does anyone else feel the same way?

Quick and simple recipe:

A few Chipotle peppers and adobo sauce
Light Mayo (The chipotle masks the gross taste of light mayo)
Lime juice (half lime)
Salt and Pepper to taste

I use a Magic Bullet for this. Toss equal parts mayo and chipotle peppers and adobo sauce into bullet(bowl). Squeeze in lime juice. Add s&p to taste. **I add more chipotles for more heat. Warning they are spicy. Mix it all up and thats it. Refrigerate after making.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

English Muffin pizza's - Chicago Style.

Love this classic easy to make dish. I do highly recommend making them "Chicago" style with the sauce on top. It made them 10x's better.

Thomas' English Muffin (the original nooks and cranny's)
Store bought pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese (grated)
Salt and Pepper

*Feel free to add any toppings. These are great personal pies.

Toast the English muffin, spread pizza sauce on top, spread cheese on top, sprinkle oregano and salt and pepper to taste, put more sauce on top! Toast in the oven/toaster over for 5 minutes on 350 or until cheese is melted. These are simple and amazing.